As the New Year approaches, I thought it would be a good time to take a moment to reflect upon what’s gone on over the past 12 months. I think one of the most challenging experiences I had this year was getting used to the responsibilities and unexpected costs associated with home ownership. I never thought that I could single-handedly keep the pockets of my local plumbers, electricians, and drain cleaner professionals lined with my money all throughout the year, but that’s been a big part of my year. I thought the tax benefit I would get from owning would be great and it was and still is, but it certainly got used up right away once this needed fixing and that needed replacement. Oy vay. But I love my place and now coming on my 2nd year anniversary of owning my condo, I still wouldn’t trade it. It’s all mine, I’m so proud of it and I really feel like I’ve made myself a cute little home. I also celebrated my 10th year at my company and I couldn’t believe that I was old enough to have done anything for 10 years in a row! My career in cultural exchange has been challenging, fulfilling, and always new and different. I still love it and all the crazy folks I’m blessed to work with every day. I said goodbye to one of my dear colleagues this year when she passed away from cancer. It was incredibly sad, but also reminded me of how special my relationships are and how much I truly value those around me. What my friend Betty taught me about compassion and setting the highest personal and professional standards will remain with me for the rest of my life. I also learned a few lessons from another colleague who decided to move on to a new opportunity and while my heart has broken because I cherished each day we worked together, I know that our friendship will last forever and a few thousand miles won’t break our bond! I’ve traveled across the country and around the globe again this year with my friends and colleagues and as exhausting as it can sometimes be, I’m grateful for each and every opportunity. I’ve seen my amazing friends become mothers and I couldn’t be more proud of each of them as they have truly embraced their maternal instincts and become the best mommies those kids could ever ask for. I got to meet my little nephew Caden in September and I have fallen in love, once again, with a beautiful child that my sister and brother-in-law brought into this world. I didn’t think I could love a child as much as my niece Maddie, but he has stolen my heart with his little crooked smile and an addiction to cuddling I am pleased to indulge in endlessly. My family means the world to me and 2009 continued to show me that I have the very best family in the world. So, what’s in store for 2010? I don’t know, but if 2009 has taught me anything, it’s that I’m ready for whatever is coming my way! I wish you all the best in 2010 and may you be just as blessed as I have felt.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
I'm lucky enough to be able to take two weeks of vacation this holiday season. For those of you who know me well, you know this is is rather rare as I can't remember a time I was out of work for 2 straight weeks aside from when I had surgery a few years ago. Needless to say, I've definitely figured out how to fill my time and am enjoying every moment of it. Let me be clear, however, that there are a few more moments than I had anticipated. This is because of the fact that I have an internal alarm which has required me to be awake at 7:30am every morning of my vacation so far. Oh, how I long for the almost hibernation I used to be able to have as a teen where I could sleep all day and still crave more. I remember in college that if I had 20 minutes between classes I would try to figure out a way to get a nap in there. But not now. Now, my body behaves like a 75 year old where I am up early and I could easily give in to the need to go to sleep at 9:00pm on most nights. What the hell has happened to me? I'm still young, in my 30s, and there's no reason for me to be up with the roosters! Honestly, what do I need to get done during vacation at this time of the morning that couldn't wait until at least 10? This is just a cruel trick from mother nature and I'd like to know who I can write a complaint letter to about this. Oh wait, I guess I just wrote one to all of you.....
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Okay, so today I'm getting an MRI on my knee to see what's really going on so we can fix it already. Well, as part of the prep for the procedure I received a phone call from the MRI center asking me just a few questions... In a matter of fact tone, the delightfully unchipper person on the other line proceeded to ask me the following:
Friday, December 18, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Okay, so I'm still cracking up thinking about a conversation I had with a trainer at my gym this morning. So, she was filling in for my regular trainer and she was trying to bond with me with some small talk. She should NEVER try to do this again. So, here's attempt number one of her trying to bond with me:
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
I woke up with a startle on Friday morning at 3:30am. My sister had the unpleasant duty to wake me up and, without my hearing aids in, I almost smacked her not knowing who the hell was trying to get me up at this ungodly hour. Then I realize that I chose this. So we hopped in the car and were on our way with hot coffee in our hands and anxious anticipation in our minds. How many people would be there? Would the rain drive them away? Would the deals really be worth it? Could we possibly get hurt by a stampede? While the parking lot of Kohl's and Target didn't seem to be overly crowded, we quickly saw the lines out the door waiting for the grand opening and our jaws dropped. People were lined up around the building and then some! Some people put real clothes on, some stayed in their pajamas, some appeared to have not slept all night, others looked fresh as a daisy. And then there was "that guy". He was over 6'5" and I guess when the tag says one size fits all, they didn't exclude that the Snuggie he was wearing would be the perfect fit. Now, he didn't wear it as seen on tv, he wore it more like a cape a la The Lord Of The Rings. We are rookies, but we knew to stay away from Snuggie-man. The doors opened to Kohls and we made our way inside. We didn't know what we wanted, but we just knew we wanted it to be cheap. Turns out they did have some great deals but I'm not so sure the stuff I got would not have been available all day and at a time ending in "pm". But I digress. So, with parcels in hand we stood in the longest line I've ever been in. We met some interesting folks and I did some "man on the street" style interviews of them to get the best tricks of the trade. One woman had been doing this for 7 years and when she finished telling us all about how to do it right, she remembered something else she wanted and so she dumped all her stuff on her 90 year old grandmother also in line and sprinted off. She was back in a flash and Nanna didn't seem to mind, but we were worried about her for a minute. So, my grand total at Kohl's? $40. But I did save $40 on the stuff I bought so I figured I was a winner. Then we went off to Target which seemed promising given the seemingly hundreds of available cashiers. However, once we perused the store and picked up our goodies, that line was worst than them all and moved painfully slow. Now, Target is where people were getting nasty. Having a cart was ideal for waiting in line, but not so good in navigating the electronics section which was where the magic was happening. People were lined up for the 5 available alarm clocks at rock bottom prices and if you stepped in the wrong spot and assumed you had the rights to one of them, they were gonna kick your ass to Tallahassee. So, what did I get at Target? Well, quite a few things actually but none of them were on sale and none of them would be unavailable on a different day and different time. So now it was 6:30am and we couldn't take anymore. We refueled and headed home. Then we decided that since BJs was open at 7am, let's head over there. Okay, so here I did find some bargains (but again not doorbusters just general bargains going on all weekend) I spent more money here than anywhere (Kristin and Helen can stop nodding their heads in disapproval now) but I loved what I got! We were out of there and in the car again and I turned to my sister and said, okay, what shall we have for lunch? She kindly informed me that it was a bit early for lunch and as I looked at the clock I realized that while I had been up and shopping for the past 6 hours, it was only 9:30am and the next thing on my shopping list was a nice long nap!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Today is a day where we spend time with loved ones and give thanks. But let's be honest, aren't we really in this for the food? Could there be nothing better than every comfort food you could possibly crave being put out on the same table and you have license to just eat anything you want? From the stuffing to the pumpkin pie, it's a carb-loaded sugar fest of epic proportions. But this year I will try to show some restraint. I will sample a little bit of everything, but I can't go hog wild as I may have in years past. I've been working too hard with my workouts and training to lose it all over some sausage stuffing. In fact, this week I had my most recent fit assessment and I'm happy to say that I lost another 13 lbs since my last test and a bunch of inches. In fact, I lost about a foot of inches from my neck, shoulders, chest, arms, waist, hips, and thighs. That's crazy! How can a person lose all those inches and not instantly be skinny? It just means that i have so much further to go, but I'm committed so I'll do it damnit! So, my posting today is more of a public declaration that the only thing that I hope to be stuffed this year is the turkey!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
So, this weekend we gained an hour back in our lives and while we will lose it once again in the Spring, I am grateful for the time we have together now. I'm grateful for the extra hour I get to sleep. I'm grateful for one less hour's worth of guilt I feel for lazing about my house before I start to get to work picking it up. I'm grateful for that little bit of excitement I feel when I look at a clock that I haven't changed yet and I realize I have another hour more! I'm grateful for the exhilerating feeling of being "early" when I would have otherwise been an hour late. I'm grateful for this hour and I will savor it until it is ripped from my hands on that terrible Spring day.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
So, on Friday night I had an interesting experience. I went to support some of my colleagues as they hosted a huge halloween event for the area au pairs. When I got there I was greeted warmly and when I asked what I could do to help, I was put right to work. They put me front and center at the check-in table where I helped to welcome over 300 people to this Halloween shindig. Was this a well thought out plan though? I think not. For the next two hours I sat there struggling to do my assigned task. Why you ask? Because I personally think that placing a hearing impaired person at the door of a big event with over 300 non-native english speaking people who tend to be a bit soft spoken and are wearing masks is not perhaps the most efficient way to get the party started! At a certain point I gave up and just threw the clipboard at people and said, find your own name. Ah, just another day in the life of yours truly. Honestly, weren't there some balloons I could have been blowing up or some chips and dip I could have put out?
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Now, it doesn’t get any better when I come back. I still have some stuff in my suitcase from my recent trip to New Orleans. My trip to DC last week? Forget about it, the bag is still practically full. I have the amazing ability to keep a full suitcase untouched for weeks on end but the upside is that it feels like I went shopping when I finally open it back up and find all the clothes I forgot I had.
I also decided this year to be really vigilant about the gym so I have to pack a bag for that every day and I can’t really figure out if the pain of packing or the pain of exercising is more challenging for me.
Oh well, I can’t stop traveling and I can’t stop packing so I’m going to just have to figure out how to live with this.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
So, something happened to me earlier this year and I haven't quite found the vehicle to truly share what it was and what it meant to me until now with my blog. This year marked my 10 year anniversary at my company. Now, I can't believe I'm old enough to be anywhere for 10 years, but this was the big one for me. In the midst of our company's national meeting there were countless details to keep track of, presentations to plan and deliver, people to get around, and just and endless list of things to do. Regardless of how "in touch" I thought I was with every detail of this meeting, there was one thing I didn't know and something very special that was kept until a surprise until the very end. During the final awards ceremony and really the end of our meeting, I was suddenly pulled onstage in front of hundreds of long time colleagues and friends and it was announced that it was my 10 year anniversary. I was touched and honored to be recognized and after a wave to the audience, I exited the stage. I was then mandhandled over to a seat in the audience and told to sit back and take it all in. Moments later, the lights dimmed, the music started, and a line of nuns walked in from the back of the theatre. After a second look, I noticed that most of these nuns were my friends from our management team. They took the stage along with some professional actresses and singers and proceeded to give me a live tribute through the songs of Sister Act. Anyone who knows me knows that I love me some Sister Act. Well, they rewrote the lyrics to several songs from this movie and delivered a performance I will never forget. I was simply in awe of so many things in that moment. I couldn't believe what they were willing to put themselves through, I couldn't believe that they had clearly found time to put so much work into this and I couldn't believe they pulled this all off without me knowing anything about it! I was laughing and crying and having the time of my life. Between numbers they gave me a Sister Act poster signed by all the people in attendance at our national meeting, something I will treasure forever. They brought it home with a rousing rendition of "We Will Follow Her" and I've never been so humbled and honored in my entire life. I went back to my hotel room and simply wept and called each of them to say thank you because I was blown away by the generosity and creativity of my friends and was touched so deeply by the gift they had given me. Thank you Dave, Susan, Sam, Annette, Katie and everyone who made that special moment possible and for giving me a gift I will never forget.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Well, today was another adventure for your dear author. After an exhausting weekend with the niece and nephew (is Caden not just adorable!?!?!), I returned to work but did my obligatory visit to the gym this morning before I got there. I am as committed as ever but my body is beginning to let me down. A couple of weeks ago it felt like my left kneecap had kind of moved to the wrong place, yuck! But after some icing and Advil it seemed to pop back in. Now my knee is acting up again and I can tell it's filled with fluid and couldn't be more uncomfortable. So, I'm trying to get some direction from my doctor and we'll see what we can do to fix this. The problem is that this comes just as I'm on a roll with my fitness routine! So, we're now focusing on exercises that don't aggravate my knee, but unfortunately, they are aggravating the rest of me. This morning during our session my trainer called my grunts and groans a "soundtrack" to our workout. I was working so hard and grunting my way through it that other people in the gym were wondering what medieval torture she was imposing on me. It doesn't look that hard, but it felt like hell. Basically one of the little gems she had me do was to lay down with both legs straight out. Then she slowly counts to ten while I lift one leg up at a time and then she even more slowly counts back down again to one as I lower it. Now, i can't touch the floor again, oh NO! Just as the foot is shaking it's way down to the floor, we lift ourselves back up again! Fun, fun, fun until that was done done done. Then, after my exhausting session where we did that a bunch of times and some other super fun exercises, I went to work. I forgot that over the weekend we had moved offices and so I walked into my new digs and had the unfortunate task of having to unpack nine massive crates of binders, paperwork, and all the shit I've accumulated over 10 years. So, then I decided tonight would be a good night to work out my brain after I had killed myself at the gym, thrown my back out unpacking, now I should work out my brain with some refinancing discussion with my mortgage guy. First of all, while I am hearing impaired and do appreciate a nice robust voice, my mortgage guy is so loud I'm surprised none of YOU heard him during our meeting. He said alot of big words, wrote down a bunch of numbers and now I think I'm closing in less than 20 days about 1.5% lower in my mortgage rate. So, today was exhausting but productive as I worked out my body, my mind, and my mortgage!
Friday, October 23, 2009
While I'm not a mommy yet, I feel like the arrival of my beautiful niece Maddie and now my handsome nephew Caden has introduced me to a whole new world just the same. It's amazing how these little beautiful munchkins can change your world in an instant. You don't have to be a parent to know that your life will never be the same again. I can still remember the first time I met little Maddie with her tiny little fingers and all wrapped up in her hospital blanket. I remember thinking she was so delicate and fragile and I immediately thought of all the things I couldn't wait to show her. I dreamed of taking her to her first broadway show and playing dress up together and I just couldn't wait to hear what she would have to say. Now, three years later she's talking up a storm and has so much personality. I look back now in her baby pictures and can see that beautiful little face as it plumped up over time, those eyes get more and more blue, and that hair that grown women would pay thousands of dollars to even come close to is growing faster than her mommy can cut it. She has grown up so much in the past 3 years and now she's a big sister. She has so much to teach her baby brother. She's a heck of a swimmer, not a bad singer (we'll work on her American Idol audition piece eventually), and she's a precious little angel to me. Happy Birthday Maddie, Auntie Nat loves you so much!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
A lot of people tell me that they are envious of all the travel that I do as part of my job. I get that, it sounds exciting, but the reality is that even though I’ve been to some amazing places, most of the time I get to see the inside of the hotel more than I get to see the sites. This trip to New Orleans is certainly no exception. So, I end up making my own fun. Like, for instance on Sunday evening I went to dinner with my very fun, very fabulous and very gay boss (this will be relevant in just one moment). We went to The Gumbo Shop, a lovely establishment right off of Chartres street in the French Quarter. I drank my first Hurricane and let me tell you something, that drink packs a major punch!!! Well, after a second one, he and I begin singing show tunes. We were in Act II of Avenue Q when a bunch of people sat down in the table next to us. One of the women heard us singing and leaned over and said “Y’all, is he serenading you?” Before I could say anything, my boss says “well, yes. I just proposed.” Well, that’s all it took for the table to erupt with excitement, applause, and high fives all around. Then she announced to the entire restaurant, “Y’all, they just got engaged!!!” Now, the best part is that my boss is gay and we were SINGING SHOWTUNES and not Endless Love when we announced our commitment to each other. Well, then he takes a ring from my right hand and places it upon my left to make it official, tells everyone that we need to go back to the hotel to “celebrate” and off we went. I was both mortified and laughing hysterically all at the same time. As we stumbled home I thought, “so this is that magical feeling when you get engaged.” Just another day at work…
Monday, October 5, 2009
Okay, so sometimes I wake up in the morning and my throat is a bit scratchy and my nose is a little sore and I figure it’s just allergies. That is until I go on a trip like I am on at the moment and look over the other side of the room to see my roommate with a pillow over her head in the middle of the night. Now, she claims it’s because she was “cold” but I know the truth…the ugly truth…the painful truth…that I snore. I do it loudly and not so proudly. What’s worse is that I then spend the rest of the night tossing and turning because I don’t want to disturb my friend.
Now, I live alone so really the only one I might bother is my cat, but let’s be honest, based on my earlier post, she can handle a little discomfort herself now and then. And of course when I travel with my friends no one is really volunteering to be my roommate unless they come equipped with a noise machine, earplugs, and a lot of patience.
One day I’m hoping this will go away, but for now, I’m just hoping that my good friends will keep my little secret so no one else “nose.”
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Let’s begin with the insomnia situation. Now, I can’t say I have a real “diagnosis” or anything, but I have decided that I have a disorder that I will now call Restless Sleepatitis. Sure, you won’t be able to find it on WebMD, but I’m pretty sure that the NIH is only days away from coming out with news about this condition. So, what happens is that I go through my day and have the normal 3pm tired spell but I recover and make it through the rest of the evening. At around 10pm I get so tired I can’t keep my eyes open, but I struggle against it because there is more entertainment to find on tv and I’m not willing to let myself go to the land of sleep just yet. Occasionally I succumb to the sleep and I don’t wake up the next morning refreshed and ready to go, I wake up 4 hours later wide awake and unable to fall back asleep until just about one hour before my alarm goes off which is a big slice of awesome pie. Now, when I win the battle of the 10pm drowsiness I can’t fall asleep until after midnight and then I’m restless until my alarm goes off at 7am. Now, the only solution I’ve found that works is having a few glasses of wine, but I hardly think my trainer or my liver would appreciate this as a method for better sleep every night.
So, in addition to my sleep challenges, I have another obstacle I face each night, the damned cat. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I love that little bugger more than I can say, but must she find the one spot on my bed to sleep each night that I want to put my feet? Must I live in fear that she will decide to play the “pounce” game when I move my feet under the covers and attack me? Does she have to see a shadow of something in the middle of the night and go on a rampage to find the mystery dust ball or whatever it is and freak me the hell out? I mean I guess she gets her kicks when and where she can, but I fear that I may have to kick her out of the bedroom soon unless she gets her act together. She’s so damned cute that I guess I let her get away with it, but the bags under my eyes are getting so big I have to check them when I go to the airport and enough is enough!
Can anyone help me with my struggle to get a good night’s sleep? Send me your advice, recipes for sleep, or drug recommendations, I’m all ears and I’ve got plenty of time to read through your ideas tonight……………
Monday, September 28, 2009
For those of you less familiar with my journey, it started back at the end of May when I decided that it was time to stop being polite and time to start getting real about getting myself healthy. A friend of mine introduced me to a gym in town that was all centered around personal training. She had great results after having her baby so I figured that while I still weighed more than she did at her 9 month pregnancy mark, I should give it a shot.
And so the pain began. I started with my first session where I both almost lost my lunch and cried. It was my “introductory” session to get a sense of how things work and after seeing what horrible shape I was in, I immediately signed up for 8 weeks of sessions. I was introduced to my trainer, a 5’2” woman from Ecuador who was ranked # 8 for soccer when she played PROFESSIONALLY for her National team. Yeah, 5’9” and all kinds of pounds of me meets 5’2” Gabby who is solid muscle and a wee bit scary. But somehow, some way, we kind of clicked and now I wouldn’t want to work with anyone else. We’ve struck an interesting balance where she pushes me but is careful of my limits and I give her great advice on how to handle her tumultuous relationship with her girlfriend in Colombia. The other day she wasn’t listening to my advice and I pointed out that I was in fact wearing a Dr. Phil t-shirt and I knew what I was talking about. Incidentally, this morning she thanked me because they made up after their most recent argument based on my input. Go me!!! I’ve always dreamed of helping lesbians work out their relationship problems, what a gift I have.
Okay, so every 5-6 weeks, Gabby changes up my routine. Now, I often catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and chuckle as I realize the crazy stuff she has me doing. Fat people are not supposed to do the things she makes me do, but I guess that’s the point. But honestly, sometimes it is just ridiculous. For instance, when she demonstrates an exercise and it involves jumping, it always takes me a second longer to execute because when I jump, the world seems to move with me. Last week she had me jumping off a step and I almost knocked myself out with “my girls”. Today I was lifting some dumbbells and was instantly reminded that I need to keep coming to my workouts because I have the buff arms of an atrophied elephant.
So, today we were due for a routine change. Just so you have a window into my world, here you go:
q 30 reps of a lovely squat/row combination that makes my legs burn, my forehead sweat and my body ache for it to end as quickly as possible
q Then we go to the floor for 30 crunches where I hold a large exercise ball between my legs and pull it up to my chest. Again, dying is often preferable when getting to the last 10 of these when the burning sensation hits 5 alarms.
q Then up again where we, and by “we” I mean I, do 30 reps of pulling a dumbbell up with one hand and down again and then switching sides. She’s hysterical when she tells me to exhale as I lift the weight. If I’m not careful, I’ll take out my own nose.
q Then we round it all off with “wood chops”. Now, Helen is probably familiar with these as is Paul Bunyan, but I have not had the pleasure of this little exercise in my city-living life. In this little ditty, I grab the handle and pull up from the floor, across my chest and towards the opposite wall. To keep it funky fresh, Gabby has me do this really quickly so it’s a cardio exercise/strength training combo, two for the price of one, I’m so lucky…
After doing this once I’m pretty tired, but I get to do it 3, that’s right 3 times before I’m done. And then the stretching begins.
The stretching is both my favorite and least favorite part of the work out. It’s my favorite because it means the heavy lifting is done, but it’s my least favorite because she has me lay down for part of it and pulls my legs up. Now, for both the ladies and the gents out there, once you’ve done this once in a pair of loose-fitting shorts, you’ll think twice every time you choose your underwear before a workout. While she may have enjoyed the purple flower pattern I was so proudly displaying to her, I wanted to die!
But the beat goes one, the pounds keep melting off and I feel stronger and stronger. But one thing is for sure, I cannot take myself too seriously with all of this because it turns out that this shit is just too funny. So, welcome to my world. I hope you enjoy it and I hope I can make you laugh every now and again.